Since moving to Chelsea he has struggled to make the sort of impact that Roman Abramovich must have hoped for when he parted with £50million. Indeed, Torres was supposed to be the man to fire the goals that would turn the stumbling Blues back into genuine challengers.
But, so far this hasn’t happened. Torres has cut the same frustrated, sometimes isolated figure at Stamford Bridge that he did at Anfield in the final few months of his Liverpool tenure.
But what has gone wrong? After all, they say ‘form is temporary, class is permanent’. But how long can bad form continue before it exceeds ‘the temporary’. From his January move to the end of last season Torres rarely looked like scoring (managing only one in fourteen league games). The media is an opportunistic beast and it didn’t take them long to target Torres. With each game in which he failed to scores the chorus’ grew in which he was described as a flop and a bomb. To me this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy where the striker, already low on confidence is harangued by the media, which in turn shaves even more confidence, resulting in more abject performances.
People assumed Torres would slot seamlessly into the Chelsea formation of 4-2-3-1. After all he spent the majority of his Liverpool career as a lone striker. The difference being that, at Anfield he played with Steven Gerrard directly behind him. In Liverpool’s finest days those two were Liverpool’s sole attacking threat (the midfield and the auxiliary ‘wingers’ were expected to contribute more to the solidity of the defence). Torres flourished with Gerrard. The Spaniard’s movement, probably his most potent weapon often picked out by Gerrard’s excellent passing. Also, Torres’ pace meant defenders were inclined to drop deep, but in doing so gave Gerrard space to shoot from distance.
At Chelsea, Torres is surrounded by more attacking options. As lone striker he had Malouda to his left, Anelka to his right and behind him Frank Lampard. For me, the problem was that there were too many attacking players around him. With Malouda driving in from the left, Anelka (despite his starting position) still a striker and Lampard forging ahead from midfield as well, there wasn’t enough space for Torres to move and drag defenders. This formation worked with Drogba because his imposing physique allowed him to be employed as a pivot and he was dominant in the air, leaving the other players to feed from him.
Attempts were made by a desperate Ancelotti to adjust the formation but all this achieved was to put the rest of the team out of rhythm and before long the manager made the decision to drop Torres.
After a summer off (following World Cup and Confederation Cup commitments in the last two summers respectively) people predicted Torres would be fully-fit and rested and as a result sharper for the 2011-12 season. The skilful Juan Mata was also brought in to increase creativity (as was the protracted but fruitless move to sign Luka Modric).
An away day at Stoke saw Torres look sharper and hungrier but still brought no goals. Indeed his performances this season have been much improved. Most recently he got two assists in the Champions League game against Leverkusen. However, there are still no goals and as of writing his Chelsea record stands at twenty-two games – one goal.